Thursday, 24 May 2018

An Investigative Walk

So many of you, my fellow bloggers, have been writing about how wonderful this time of year is. And I can only agree! The fresh green-ness of woods, fields, orchards and vineyards, buttercups and daisies, and don't get me started on the scents! Everywhere I walk these days, except for maybe innercity Stuttgart, is rich with the loveliest scents. I walk or run in the woods or along fields and get a noseful of elderflower or dog rose every few paces. Privet hedges are considered symbols of narrow-minded, conservative neighbourhoods, but I like them - the scent of their tiny white flowers is wonderful, and I am sorry it lasts so briefly.

Last weekend was a long weekend for us here in Germany, as Pentecost Monday is a holiday. I spent it at O.K.'s, and we were out and about quite a lot, starting with a family BBQ (and my first frisbee game ever!) on Saturday. Sunday saw us out for a leisurely run; for me, it was the first time I made more than 7 km since before my OP. I am still far from feeling as fit as I want to, but I am getting there. 
We ran along a path that gave us a good view of the surrounding hilly area, covered in the aforementioned fields, orchards and vineyards. In the not too far distance, we could make out a field that looked very red. We couldn't see it well enough to determine what it was; possibly a mesh covering to protect flowers and/or fruit from birds? We spent the rest of the day doing other things, but in the evening decided to walk there and find out.

Have you ever seen something from a distance and tried to get there, without exactly knowing which paths lead there? Well, of course O.K. is familiar with the area, and I have a pretty good orientation now after being a regular visitor for more than 2 years, but we did not know which paths would take us there on the most direct route. It was lovely soft evening light (and there were those scents!), though, and we didn't mind taking the odd extra turn.
Eventually, we reached the far corner of the red field - it was all poppies! A very large field it was, and actually, it was a pale violet form of cultivated poppies. In between the large violet ones were single red ones of the "wild" variety, and in the one corner, they had really gone to town, growing so densely that that part of the field looked completely red from afar. So, no protective plastic mesh, just beautiful flowers!

We arrived home with very little light left, it was almost dark by then but well past 9:00 pm. Our investigative walk had taken us about 2 1/2 hours, and we were ready for something to eat.

It was dusk by the time we had reached the field, so for the light and the angle we were at, a picture wasn't going to come out well. Therefore, I have to leave it to your imagination.

But I have a few other pictures for you. The first one is for Kay - we often walk past this allotment; its owners seem to be very fond of hearts :-)

This one was taken on Monday. We met friends at a restaurant situated at the edge of the Black Forest, about 15 minutes drive from O.K.'s village. It used to be a working mill, and the wheel is still supposed to be turning, but it is overgrown with ivy and needs some cleaning up. From our table in the beer garden I had a good view of the wheel. The whole setting is rather romantic, but our stay there ended rather sudden when the sky went all dark and thunderstorm-like rain began to fall.

The train trips to and from O.K.'s went well, in spite of the changed schedule (see my last post). But they take up more time now, which means I arrive later and have to leave earlier... ho-hum!

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Normal Life Resumed

Well, almost. I have not yet been to the gym (but I really mean to, very soon - hopefully next week), and I am not yet allowed to go swimming or use a sauna, but both of these are not at the top of my activity list anyway.

My eye is still getting better, sometimes I notice it, sometimes I don't. It depends very much on how tired I am and how much I have already been reading and writing (i. e. working) that day.

This week was my first proper week back at work. Never in my life have I missed work for such a long time for health reasons! My customers all told me how happy they were to see me back, which was nice (and I think they really mean it). Of course the workload has not eased over those four weeks, quite the contrary. But I am determined not to let things get on top of me, and still take my occasional breaks when my eye(s) feel tired.

I have been running three times since I've been allowed sports again; every time went better. My fitness level (which for me is crucial to my wellbeing) is still far from what I'd like it to be, but I am optimistic about slowly but surely getting there.

It feels good having my normal life back, even though the last 1 1/2 weeks of my enforced break were really good, after I was allowed doing again most of what I like. The regular check ups with my eye doctor are at larger intervals now, and I only need drops twice a day instead of every couple of hours.

Weather has been a very mixed bag for us this past week. We have had some much needed rain, and the mornings and evenings were really chilly. This weekend is a "long" one in Germany, with Monday being a public holiday (Pentecost) and schools closed next week. A lot of people have gone away for weekend trips or more, and many of those staying at home are planning hikes or garden parties, barbeques and the like. The forecast is not ideal for any of this, but hopefully, the weather will hold out for this afternoon's and evening's family gathering at the allotment of O.K.'s parents - yes, a BBQ after coffee & cake!

I am leaving to catch my train in about 15 minutes and just wanted to give you this brief update with a few pictures I took during my time off. 

Left: Mum's home-made quiche with green asparagus and a glass of rosé,  for lunch at my parents' one day. Right: walnut cream cake and coffee at a café on Ludwigsburg's market square; this was one of my first outings after the OP.

Palace grounds, 11th of May. My type of garden, the less formal one.

Train schedules have changed; the connections that were most convenient for me have been abandoned. I now have to change trains twice instead of only once, and the trip is longer by about 20-30 minutes. Keep your fingers crossed for me that it all works out, and O.K. can meet me as planned at the train station just before 2:00 pm!

Monday, 14 May 2018

A Sunday Out

Today will see me returning back to work - I have never missed work for so long (4 weeks!) for health reasons, and the last time I was on holiday for 4 weeks in one go was in 2004 or 2006, more than ten years ago. And while I feel truly ready to resume normal life with all its activities, right now I can hardly imagine to be in an office for 8 or 9 hours, looking at a screen or reading text on paper all day. I am determined to take breaks whenever my eyes tell me they need it, and not overdo it - we shall see how successful I'll be at that!

Yesterday, Sunday, O.K. and I took the train to Bietigheim, a nearby town where he'd never been before. Somehow I woke up with the idea in my head that I'd like to visit there, and since the train journey is only about 10 minutes, we arrived there soon after breakfast.

Bietigheim is one of those strangely laid-out towns where the train station is rather far away from the town centre instead of right in it. There is a bus service, but of course we walked the 1,5 km or so. The path leads down to the valley of the river Enz, deeply cut into natural stone walls on one side and a relatively wide opening with the town surrounded by meadows and orchards on the other side of the river.

Arriving in town, we found out that there was a lot going on - shops were open (they usually aren't in Germany on a Sunday), there were booths lining the pedestrian area of the historic town centre, a brass band playing and food stalls spreading all sorts of smells. We had not known that (lack of preparation on my part, I'm afraid), and I offered to turn round and go somewhere else, but we decided to stay and just try to avoid the thickest crowds.

Instead, we took advantage of the fact that the old town centre has many hidden corners and little gems of "secret" gardens aside from the main street, and we even spent some time in the town museum, a house that was built in 1535 and is famous (in our area) for its richly painted interiors.

The weather wasn't quite as dreary as it looks in the pictures. The sun even came out hestitantly a few times, and then my light jacket was almost too warm, but there was also a sharp wind blowing which made me keep it on all the time.

Back home, I made us my own version of bacon-and-brie sandwiches before O.K. had to face the long drive home. Fortunately, the roads were less busy than we had feared. I am always glad and relieved to know he has arrived safely and without too much delay.

Right, time to get those old brain cells of mine working again!!

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Back in the Land of...

...the Reading and Blogging, I am happy to be allowed again almost all of my usual activities. After last week's eye examination, my doctor has given green light to sports, reading, writing and computer work - all within reasonable limits, though, which is why she has extended my enforced break for another week (this week). My first proper working day will be next Monday, but I am home now for the rest of the week and will do a few hours here and there, to see how my eye feels and reacts, and to make the diving into a very busy schedule a little easier.

First things first - here is a picture I meant to show you weeks ago. It was taken in March, at the end of our Spa break, from the top floor living room window at O.K.'s. This beautiful tree is in a neighbour's garden and looked like a pink fluffy cloud while in bloom. By now it has lost all its blossoms; the leaves are a dark burgundy red. The tree is home to a family of magpies, and while the blossoms were there, it was humming with probably hundreds of bees. 

Before I left for O.K.'s, I went for a walk with my sister. She took this photo of me. See how sensible I am, wearing a cap (courtesy of O.K.'s) to protect my eyes from the bright sun!

The following pictures were all taken around O.K.'s village on the last day of April:

Later that day, just like last year, the maypole was erected in the village. The village band was playing, and after the ceremony, everyone moved to the big beer tent for food and drinks, while the band played some more.
Last year, I helped handing out food from behind the counter, but this year, I was not yet allowed doing anything strenuous (and my eye sight wasn't really up to it, either), so I couldn't be of any use and went home after I'd had something to eat.

As I had another appointment at the doctor's on the 2nd of May, I travelled home on May Day and returned to O.K.'s after my appointment. It was his birthday on the 3rd, and we hosted a party of about 17 at his cottage. It was fun, and I was glad I was allowed to help - cleaning up after the party took us until almost 1:30 in the morning, but it was well worth it, I think.

The next few days were really warm and summery, with temperatures up to 28 Celsius or more. We started working on the wooden balcony rail; sanding it down took us one entire day. We rewarded ourselves that evening with our favourite summer drink, Apérol Spritz (a mix of Apérol, which is a bitter organe liqueur, sparkling wine and soda). Very refreshing!

Sunday saw us on our bikes, meeting with friends at a beer garden for a meal (and a few drinks). On the way back to the village, we stopped in the town center for the most delicious ice creams. Instead of riding home directly from there, O.K. showed me this beautiful spot where two streams meet. In the more than 2 years I have been coming to his place, I had not yet been there. The evening light was so beautiful, and I loved the view towards Ortenberg castle from this perspective (you've seen the castle several times on my blog already, but never from this spot).

Monday and Tuesday, we gave the balcony rail its necessary two coats of paint. Another day of - for me - unusual physical work. I enjoyed it, but of course I am not used to it, especially not after the enforced break from most of my usual activities such as running, rope skipping etc. 

I had to take the train home last night, as I have another doctor's appointment today. I have no doubt that I will be able to go back to work on Monday, but it is always good to make sure and to have everything checked.

Today is another summery day; tomorrow is a public holiday in Germany and it is forecast to be at least 10 degrees cooler and rainy. Well, we need the rain, but I am sure a lot of people had barbecues and other outdoors stuff planned - they will be disappointed.

The cherries on the tree in front of my kitchen window are as big as the top of my thumb already!

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Last of Our Spa Break

Of the 1 hour computer time I have set myself for today, 27 minutes are over and were spent with reading and replying to emails. The rest should be plenty for another blog post - I finally want to show you the rest of our Spa Break back in March.

Good Friday, the 30th of March, was our last day. We had a sumptuous breakfast and then took advantage of the beautiful sunny morning (unlike the other days of our stay here) for some photos of our surroundings.

View from our balcony
Church and vicarage seen from the breakfast terrace
Spa area seen from the breakfast terrace
Hotel entrance - this one is for Kay :-)

After checking out of the hotel, we went back to a place where we had been two days before with zero visibility. The panormaic pictures were taken by O.K. and I have his permission to show them here. You can see the Alps in the distance, and Lake Constance.

We then drove to nearby Ilmensee, a small town by a lake that must be very popular in summer for rowing boats, swimming, sunbathing and walking opportunities.

Last stop on the way home was Birnau at Lake Constance. By then, the sky had begun to cloud over, but the spot near the church (a famous place for pilgrims) made for good views.

We arrived back home well in time for dinner at my parents'. That week had been a very nice and relaxing break, and we were now ready for Easter.

Monday, 23 April 2018

Not Really Back Yet...

...but I am allowed to read/write for short periods, and so today I am at my computer for the first time. I have set a timer so that I won't stay too long; it is still hard to read anyway, which is why I won't come visiting your blogs for at least another week. I miss reading your posts, though, and hope you are all well.

This is just to let you know I'm alright. The operation went well and I had no nausea or other negative effects from the full anaesthetics. I was "out" for about 2 hours. The last 15 minutes pre-surgery were the worst, and the first day felt a little unreal. When the patch over my eye was removed for the first time on Saturday morning, I was tempted to shout "leave it!", as it felt so well protected. But the eye needed of course to be looked at, and drops were administered every hour. By Sunday, I was gaining confidence and walking without the patch.

My stay in hospital was 4 days. There were 4 beds in the room, and I must admit much as the other three ladies were nice, they were also noisy - especially at night, when their snoring was as if you were sharing a room with a group of overweight truck drivers.
One of them left the day after my OP, the other two left on Sunday morning - having the room to myself until I was released Monday around lunch time was heavenly!

My bed was the one with the yellow tulips on the bedside table.

OK came visiting on the Saturday and Sunday, he drove 150 km just to spend a few hours with me! My sister and my Mum also came visiting, brought flowers and chocolates. The guinea pig was a gift from my sister, to keep me company. 

My family and friends were (and still are!) the loveliest people on Earth, looking after me so well. At the hospital, everyone, regardless of their function/job/position, from the woman wiping to the floor to the doctor who operated my eye, was friendly, kind and made sure that in a potentially rather unpleasant and maybe painful situation, you were still feeling as well as possible, and treated like a human being, not just "the epiretinal gliosis in room 206".

A heartfelt THANK YOU to all of you and all of them!

Back home, spring had turned into summer (I call it "sprummer") for a full week - we had nearly 30 Celsius on Sunday afternoon! I am officially allowed walks, as long as I don't overdo it. Going for an ice cream was NOT overdoing it in my opinion ;-)

View from my kitchen window, as OK saw it when he spent the weekend at my place

More soon (also the rest of the photos from our spa break) when I am allowed more computer time.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Spa Break Continued

The day after we arrived was Wednesday, the 28th of March. It was a grey day, and we did go out for a walk but took few pictures:

This was the pattern we established for ourselves for this day and the next: Sleep as long as we like, have a sumptuous and leisurely breakfast, don our walking boots and go for a walk until around lunch time, get back to the hotel, undress and put on our bathrobes (provided for by the hotel), go downstairs to the spa area, have our scheduled massages, spend the rest of the afternoon spa-ing and resting, go back upstairs to our room, get dressed properly and sit down for our three-course dinner at the hotel restaurant, accompanied by a glass of wine or two - all organic food and drink.

On the Thursday, we had less time for our after-breakfast walk plus it was looking very much like rain, so we did not move far from the village, as you can see. But it was still good to be out in the fresh air, and although the woodland had more of an autumnal atmosphere, there were signs of spring if you were looking closely enough.

St. Georg, Limpach:

The vicarage next to the church - have a close look at the windows on the far right. Notice anything unusual?

 This is how far we dared to go that morning:

Woods still looking more like autumn:

The barn on the other side of the road from the hotel is part of the hotel owners' farm. It was built by the current owners' ancestors in the 18th century and is still used as a barn.

The next day was sunny and brought the opportunity for more pictures before we had to leave, but these will have to wait for another post.

Speaking of which, I don't know yet when I will be able to post again. Because tomorrow morning, I'll go to hospital for surgery on my left eye. The operation is on Friday, the 13th - good job I am not superstitious! My surgeon told me to expect to stay in hospital for about 4 days and then stay home for at least two weeks, banned from work and sports. Vision should be restored by Day 5 or so, but I'll have to avoid anything that could increase the inner eye pressure. That will probably mean I won't be allowed (or able) to read and write online for a while, at least not for more than a few minutes at a time to begin with.

But I am definitely going to be back as soon as it is feasible and risk-free.
"See" you soon, I hope!